Good morning, colleagues. It's good to be back with you again.
When I was here in February to discuss my mandate letter, and again in April on my department's main estimates, we talked at length about the need to develop our resources sustainably, about the responsibility to ensure that economic prosperity and environmental protection go hand in hand, about the opportunity to help indigenous peoples and local communities benefit economically and socially, and about the potential to make resource development a truly nation-building exercise.
Ten months later, all of those things are still true, and more urgent than ever.
We are at a pivotal moment when climate change is part of the significant challenges of our generation, and when investing in clean technology and innovation in the resource sectors is the new imperative.
The good news is that there have been encouraging signs since I was last here. Some commodity prices—particularly some metals and minerals—are beginning to bounce back. Some resource producers are talking more optimistically about the future.
There is still a lot of work to do. While Canada has the resources and know-how to lead the global transition to a lower carbon future, we will only do so by ensuring that our environmental house is in order, continuing to engage meaningfully with indigenous peoples, and ultimately earning the confidence of Canadians.
That's been our government's focus throughout its first year. We recognize that there are no easy answers. There's no unanimity on what sustainable resource development should look like. Even many families sitting around their dinner tables may not agree. There are some who argue that we should never build another pipeline or an LNG plant, and some who say we should always build these projects, but I don't think, Mr. Chair, that either side will carry the day.
In our consultations with Canadians, we've seen a consensus forming, a widening middle ground that sees economic growth and environmental stewardship as equal components of a single engine of innovation. Our government is determined to lead the way. We demonstrated that again last week with the decisions we announced on several major pipeline projects.
We have approved the Trans Mountain expansion and Line 3 replacement pipelines with appropriate binding conditions, and we rejected the Northern Gateway pipeline while imposing a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic along the northwest coast of British Columbia. In each instance, the decisions we took were based on solid science, meaningful consultations, and the best interests of Canada. I am particularly proud that our decisions incorporated the unique connection indigenous peoples have with the land, the air, and the water, a sacred relationship passed on from generations to us, and for which we have the responsibility to pass on to those who come after.
These decisions we've taken will create good jobs, more than 22,000, and they will help us reach our climate change targets by leveraging the fossil fuel resources we have today to deliver clean energy solutions for tomorrow. As the has said, the choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to achieve our goal. Our first budget spoke to this reality and Canada's potential by setting the table for investing significantly in clean technology, modernizing federal environmental assessments and regulatory reviews, and strengthening public consultations.
Today's supplementary estimates build on that, with more than $28 million in proposed new funding for Natural Resources Canada. Let me briefly highlight what we are doing in each of these areas and why.
The first area is clean technology. As a nation rich in natural resources, we need to find cleaner ways of developing them in order to meet our climate change commitments. Our government is investing $1 billion over the next four years to support clean technology, including in the natural resource sectors.
For example, the supplementary estimates propose investing $2.4 million to develop additional data on the clean technology sector, to support the energy innovation program, and to update the ENERGY STAR portfolio.
Why fund these things? Because the global clean technology market represents an exciting opportunity for Canada's natural resource sectors; a source of new, clean jobs; and a driver of prosperity for all Canadians. As part of that, we've launched the Let's Talk Clean Resources project to engage Canadians on new measures to support clean technology producers and increase investment in clean technologies in the natural resource sectors.
The second area regards modernizing our environmental assessments and regulatory reviews.
Developing our resources and getting them to market in an environmentally responsible way requires strong regulatory processes that carry the confidence of Canadians. We've understood that from the beginning, which is why we quickly implemented an interim strategy for reviewing major resource projects already in the queue.
It's an approach based on guiding principles that include broader, more meaningful consultations and a new requirement to consider upstream greenhouse gas emissions.
Today, we are seeking $2.8 million to support this enhanced level of scrutiny. As well, we are proposing to invest $3.4 million to support the work of the new five-member expert panel appointed last month to review the structure, role, and mandate of the National Energy Board.
We want to ask Canadians questions that are as fundamental as they are far-reaching. If we had to create a Canadian energy regulator from scratch, what would it look like? What principles would determine its structure? And what would its relationship with the government be?
The supplementary estimates also include $2.9 million to fund NRCan's efforts under the national marine conservation targets.
While the initiative is being led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, my department is seeking this funding to support scientific and economic assessments of petroleum resources in proposed conservation areas, in a whole-of-government approach to protecting Canada's marine and coastal areas.
The third area I'd like to speak about is strengthening public consultations.
As part of our investments to reform Canada's environmental assessments and regulatory reviews, we have placed an emphasis on enhancing public consultation. We cannot achieve any of our goals if we don't earn the public's confidence.
We've been engaging Canadians every step of the way, inviting their comments on how to modernize the National Energy Board, and gathering their thoughts through new panels that complement the NEB's formal hearings on projects such as the Trans Mountain expansion and energy east.
These supplementary estimates are critical to support public consultations that enable us to listen to Canadians because if we don't, we will never earn their trust.
Other highlights from the supplementary estimates include $1.2 million to support green jobs under the renewed youth employment strategy, $13.2 million to settle Soldier Settlement Board mineral rights with Manitoba, $2.6 million being transferred from the Department of National Defence for ongoing operating and maintenance of the Natural Resources Resolute facility and related logistics support to the Canadian Forces Arctic Training Centre, and more than $275,000 for safe and secure shipping.
Combined, all of these investments will help to strengthen our resource sectors, spur innovation, and support new research.
Mr. Chairman, these are challenging times, but they are also times of opportunity if we are prepared to seize them. I am asking for your support for these important initiatives, and for you to approve these estimates.
I welcome any questions you may have.
First of all, I would like to thank you both for being here today.
Minister, I know your schedule certainly is very active, and we really do appreciate the time you've spent to be here with us today.
My question is related to the fact that our government was elected on the belief that the environment and the economy must be balanced. We know that developing our resources and getting them to market benefits us all, creating jobs, spurring innovation, and ensuring that we have full value of our energy products.
To support this, and build Canadians' confidence in the environmental regulatory process, our government has initiated a review of the environmental process and a full modernization of the National Energy Board. We've established an interim strategy to give greater certainty and public transparency to the review of the project, but Canadians want to make sure that we will still be able to fulfill our environmental responsibilities, that we can still meet our climate change commitments, that we protect wildlife, and that we are basing decisions on science and evidence. They also want to know that our indigenous peoples will share in the benefit of resource development and be consulted throughout the process.
Last week, our government announced several important decisions that will have a significant impact across this country. You played a critical role in those decisions. They will create more good, middle-class jobs while protecting environmentally sensitive areas.
Minister, please give your thoughts to the committee on the steps being taken to balance the protection of the environment with finding new markets for our resources, ensuring that they really work hand in hand.
That's at the very heart of establishing public confidence in what we do, because it's not possible anymore to invest in the economy without an eye on the impact on our environment. I think it's also possible to develop a more prosperous future while enhancing environmental sustainability.
That leads the government to make significant investments in clean technology, relying on the innovative powers of the entrepreneur. We have taken very serious steps to ensure that environmental protection and economic development go hand in hand. There are many examples within our budget and within policy statements that we've made.
Also, I think it's very important to point out that, just several weeks ago, the Prime Minister was in Vancouver and announced a $1.5 billion investment in the oceans protection plan. What's so important about that is that it has also led to very important partnership offers to indigenous communities, to be a part of first response, to be a part of the protection of the coastline.
I know, from so much time spent this year with indigenous communities on the coast, that it is that relationship with the land, the air, and the water that's fundamental, as part of their responsibility to take what was given to them by generations who came before, to leave our environment in a better place. We must respect their traditional values, but also invite indigenous peoples to be part of the process every step of the way. That's what the oceans protection plan does.
On the climate file, we've announced very important measures across the Canadian economy, working with the provinces and the territories.
Everybody knows that the Prime Minister will be sitting down with leaders at the end of this week to talk about a pan-Canadian approach. You know that we have announced the phase-out of coal by 2030. You know that we will sign equivalency agreements with the provinces because we think it's so important that the provinces, within their own jurisdiction, take the leadership role.
Working with the leaders of other jurisdictions, working with indigenous communities, we believe that we will satisfy the three pillars of economic growth, environmental sustainability, and working with indigenous peoples.
Okay, and I want to pick up on that again.
When our government made decisions on energy projects, be they mining projects or pipelines—in question period you like to tell me how much further ahead you are—we approved the Northern Gateway based on the National Energy Board recommendation. We also denied Prosperity mine and New Prosperity mine when the independent environmental assessment process made that decision based on science, not on the politics of it.
Speaking to your decision to kill Northern Gateway, based again on the political considerations....
Brian Lee Crowley, the managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute said:
||This throws the entire process into great confusion...I think [it] creates a huge disincentive for people to want to risk their money on pipelines in Canada because we've gone from a predictable, rules-based system to one where the outcome depends on whether the Prime Minister of Canada thinks your pipeline runs through a forest...he likes.
Can you explain this to me? It's a great talking point, the Great Bear Rainforest and the Douglas Channel, but it isn't based on science.
On the Trans Mountain pipeline, the said in his announcement that we would consider zero political arguments and that there would be no political arguments that would be allowed to stand. This is based on the NEB decision. The ministerial advisory panel that you set up—and we have no idea how much that cost Canadians—delayed the project by months. It did not affect a single of the 157 recommendations made by the NEB review board that was set up previously.
Why did you abandon that process that you used for Trans Mountain? You used the NEB process for Trans Mountain to justify it and said, “this is based on evidence”, and “this is based on science”, and “no political arguments will stand”. Then you went with completely political arguments against the Northern Gateway pipeline. I think that industry is having a tough time reconciling that. I think investors in this country will have a tough time reconciling that.
As we move towards energy east, a pipeline that the New Brunswick Premier has said that he wants to see, how can you assure investors? How can you assure the company that they won't spend, like the Northern Gateway pipeline did, $600 million only to have the project gonged and 4,000 jobs killed because the thinks your pipeline runs through a forest he likes?
Thank you, Minister, for being here this morning.
Because we have limited time, I'm going to jump right in, and my comments are going to be around the new NEB process, contrasting it with the old. It's a process that you have said many times in the House—I've lost track of how many times—should be engendering the confidence of Canadians in the energy industry.
I want to talk about the interim processes that you brought out in January and that were used for the Kinder Morgan decision. Many have criticized these interim measures, or at least the panel that went around British Columbia in the summer discussing the Kinder Morgan decision. Communities, including indigenous communities, were given next to no notice to take part in the meetings. No transcripts or records were made of the testimony, and the report itself stated, in the words of the panel, “We understood that our process would not be a redo of the NEB review”, which is what your party promised during the election. They also said:
||...about the important issues they felt had been missed in the NEB process, our panel hadn’t the time, technical expertise or the resources to fill those gaps. Our role was not to propose solutions, but to identify important questions that, in the circumstances, remain unanswered.
The report made no recommendations. It only gave the government six questions, all of which the government failed to address in the approval of Kinder Morgan.
My question is, what was the point of this interim process? If it was meant to give the government advice, if it was meant to engender confidence, it has clearly failed on all those grounds. To engender confidence you have to give people the feeling that they have been listened to. Your government met with Ian Anderson, the head of Kinder Morgan, 36 times in the last year, in private meetings, and yet you give the other concerned communities very little time and very little credibility.
I just want to know how this is going to engender confidence.
The engagement is largely between the proponent, in this case Kinder Morgan, and communities. They sign benefit agreements. We understand that the total value of those agreements is around $300 million. The government has a responsibility to consult with indigenous communities, as we have done both through my own meetings with the chiefs and through many dozens of meetings held by officials in first nations communities, indigenous communities, that are affected by these major energy projects.
I want to say also that it's not only a question of meaningful consultation; it's also a matter of real action. In the ocean protection plan, there is real action. In the offer to share governance of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, that's real action. The work that's being done right now by the and Transport Canada to protect the orca, killer whale, in the habitat that is so sacred to indigenous communities, is real.
What progress we have made, not related only to any given project, but working hand in hand with indigenous peoples, is directed to the same common objective. That objective is to leave the environment in a better place than we found it.
We have also established environmental monitoring committees. We did that in the first place, as members will remember, with the Pacific NorthWest LNG decision, and we're doing that, as well, with Kinder Morgan and with Line 3. There will be a monitoring process that will be fully inclusive of indigenous peoples, and there will also be an economic partnership pathway that will produce jobs, skills, and procurement opportunities for those communities.
Yes, there are many examples. There are 39 in the case of Kinder Morgan.
You may remember in the PNW LNG discussion that there was a referendum in Lax Kw'alaams that supported the LNG project. We know it's divisive, and that there is not one view of resource projects. I dare say, if I can look to my honourable friend from the New Democratic Party, there may not be consensus in his party either over natural resource projects. Rachel Notley is the Premier of Alberta. I have met over the last number of months with union leaders and rank and file who are very happy that these projects have been approved.
There will be, no doubt, a debate in your caucus. There has been a debate in our caucus, as people have watched. Perry Bellegarde, the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, was quoted as recently as yesterday saying that there is no one view. I heard another chief this morning say it's probably fifty-fifty.
Faced with that kind of diversity of opinion, it's left to government to decide. The government will decide on the basis of the facts, the evidence, the consultation, the economic possibilities, and the environmental stewardship, and then make decisions for which governments are ultimately accountable.